Like so many downloadable releases these days, Ion Assault is one pretty game. The concept of the game is that you float around the screen pulling in particles from the surrounding ion cloud and expelling them at objects. Your right joystick controls your aim (left and right rotate your ship in the respective direction), and your left joystick will thrust you in any direction, giving you free range of motion while firing in on a 360-degree field. Holding the left trigger slows your throttle and activates your gravity generator, which sucks in particles from the ion cloud...releasing it fires the particles in a stream that pummels your target and can actually splash back and cause damage to other nearby obstacles. In this sense, the first few levels feel significantly like Asteroids...until the enemy ships start showing up.
Yes, that's right: enemies. There are several types of enemy ships and stationary targets, all of which enter the area via portal and attack in some way. Some have straightforward shooting capabilities, some chase you down, and some just wander around like deep space snakes waiting for you to run into them and damage your own ship; there's even a craft that splits into two smaller gunships when damaged, taking the concept of breaking down your obstacles to a new level.
Obstacles throughout the game include asteroids, chunks of ice, and even hulking pieces of space junk, each relevant to the "sector" that you're currently in. There are four sectors in all, which can be divided into five stages and a boss stage. These fights consist of destroying portions of the boss -- such as turrets -- and then finally the boss itself.
There are a small number of powerups you can pick up from certain enemies or obstacles: three passive powerups (which are activated automatically) and three offensive (which you activate with your right trigger). Power Shield and Gravity Boost respectively add protection and extend the range of your gravity generator (so that you can pull in more particles). Chrono Stasis freezes everything but your ship for several seconds. Offensive weapons include the Vortex Grenade, which is a stationary mine that draws in particles in a vortex pattern, then expels them...Seeking Drones, which are basically missiles that hunt down enemy targets...and the Plasma Torus, a one-time fiery blast that originates from your ship and does damage in all directions.